Now a champion for transparency, Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Mr. Charles Ramsey didn’t appear to hold that value months ago.
Among the names tossed at the Philadelphia Police Commissioner as he brushed past chanting protesters to exit a restored prison on Tuesday evening was “hypocrite.”
A national figure, Mr. Charles Ramsey has found himself the target of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, who pledged to haunt him with disruption and agitation until he fires and arrest the officers involved in the killing – and ensuing cover-up – of Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown, a 26 year-old black man who, during a traffic stop, was shot once while unarmed and fleeing.
The case of Mr. Tate-Brown, which achieved national media attention a little more than two months after the December 15th fatal officer-involved shooting, has attracted, I would assume, more headache and controversy than Mr. Ramsey or his colleagues expected.
In addition to causing a cluster of dedicated activists of all ages, races and genders to continuously agitate the bureaucrat, the case – though Mr. Ramsey won’t publicly acknowledge it – has influenced his decision, along with a recommendation from the Department of Justice, to release within 72 hours the names of police officers involved in shootings, a policy almost identical to the one proposed by Ms. Tanya Brown-Dickerson, Mr. Tate-Brown’s mother, and I at #TransparencyNow, a Mayoral forum with the theme of police and criminal justice reform.
The idea of transparency in police shootings, which Mr. Ramsey now claims to be for but certainly didn’t appear to be in the case of Mr. Tate-Brown, has its critics; most notable is the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, who yesterday introduced a bill that would grant anonymity to most cops involved in on-duty shootings, except in cases where they are charged with a crime as a result of the shooting, according to The Philadelphia Daily News.
Responding to the FOP’s move, which is said to be done in the spirit of protecting officers and their families, Mr. Ramsey was quoted in the Daily News as saying the following:
“Barring threats being made to an officer, their family or the department in general, the names ought to be released. We’re public servants. I don’t think you can reasonably expect to shoot people and remain anonymous.”
While I agree with Mr. Ramsey’s statement, it deserves much scrutiny, because that didn’t appear to be his belief months ago when activists where protesting regularly – including twice when they interrupted town hall meetings – demanding to know “Who killed Brandon Tate-Brown?”
The sentiment of Mr. Ramsey at that time was that he had no intentions of releasing the officers’ names, and even told the media that the behavior – notice he didn’t use the word “threats” – of the protesters at the Lawncrest Recreational Center further validated his already made up mind.
So here’s where the hypocrisy shines: The event where protesters clashed with police, resulting in the arrest of 10 individuals, was in March. As noted prior, the killing of Mr. Tate-Brown was in mid-December.
Nearly three months of peaceful protesting had taken place wherein the most repetitive demand was the identity of Mr. Tate-Brown’s executioner. And with the same repetition, Mr. Ramsey – or his proxies – denied or ignored the demand.
It wasn’t until early June that the names of the officers involved were released, along with videos of the incidents and the officers’ statements. A week later, Mr. Brian Mildenberg, an attorney for Mr. Tate-Brown’s family and estate, held a press conference outside City Hall in response to the newly released information. Here’s what he said:
“On December 15th, 2014, Brandon Tate-Brown was shot once in the back of the head by a Philadelphia police officer. For the past six months, the Philadelphia Police Department has wrongfully refused to identify the name of either police officer – either the shooting officer or his partner – who pulled over Brandon Tate-Brown while he was driving his vehicle. For the past six months, the police department has officially and formally stated that the police officer was required… forced to shot Brandon Tate-Brown in the back of his head because he was reaching into the passenger side door for a gun. Last Wednesday, the police department finally acknowledged, six months later, that was never true; Brandon Tate-Brown was not reaching into his passenger side door for a gun when he was shot. I wish we could celebrate this victory, but it’s tragic. It’s a victory for truth, but it’s tragic. We have been fighting for six months; the mother of Brandon Tate-Brown has persevered through snowstorms … protesting… we’ve seen her… though rain, through snow, through every season. We stood out here in the winter time with our winter jackets, exactly at this spot, demanding justice and truth for Brandon Tate-Brown. But the Philadelphia Police Department would not release the names of the officer; would not release even one page of evidence related to this case; would not release the video that they had the entire time that shows Brandon Tate-Brown being shot in the back of his head while running away in the rear of his vehicle, not reaching into the passenger door. We filed a lawsuit, here, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Tanya Brown-Dickerson only approximately six weeks ago, and then we filed discovery, and that gave them thirty days to provide the evidence. And on Day 29, they provided the evidence. They provided the video and the statement of the officers, and what that evidence showed is what we said all along, that Brandon Tate-Brown was not reaching into his car when shot, not only that, they have now released the names of those police officers, including the name of the shooting officer. So, that’s where we are today, and our lawsuit is continuing.”
The lawsuit Mr. Mildenberg referred to in June was dropped this week, and to replace it is a federal class-action lawsuit, which doesn’t seek monetary damages, but instead wants the courts to have jurisdiction over the reform efforts at the Philadelphia Police Department.
Not only wasn’t Mr. Ramsey in any way the champion of transparency as it relates to Mr. Tate-Brown’s case, another statement he made recently further validates why the word “hypocrite” has been used by activists to describe him.
When asked about the case of Ms. Sandra Bland in Texas, Mr. Ramsey said:
“If you pull someone over for a traffic violation, just write the friggin’ ticket.”
Those words have come back to haunt him, as activist have chanted them when protesting in front of the District Attorney’s office; when halting rush hour traffic in front a television studio; and most recently, when Mr. Ramsey’s lecture Tuesday evening at Eastern State Penitentiary was shut down.
It’s quite acceptable for everyone to evolve and have a change of heart, but it’s also clear to see why Mr. Tate-Brown’s supporters are beyond enraged at the police commissioner, his hypocrisy, and the seemingly soulless oligarchy he so proudly represents.
* Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening at 6:30pm to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™